Carmona and Flake are tied with 38 percent of the votes, according to survey of 833 Arizona voters done July 23-25 by Public Policy Polling and paid for by the League of Conservation Voters, which is backing Carmona. Another 25 percent of people surveyed said they were undecided.
Carmona is unopposed in the Democratic primary while Flake is facing Mesa businessman Wil Cardon in a bruising Republican primary in which Cardon has poured in $7.6 million of his own money to pay for a blitz of attack ads on Flake. Flake, a six-term Congressman, has responded with his own aggressive campaign of ads against Cardon.
The primary is Aug. 28 with early ballots going out Thursday.
This new poll shows that Carmona’s chances against Flake may be improving. In a Mid-may poll of 500 Arizona voters done also by Public Policy Polling, Flake had a 48-25 percent lead on Carmona.
Carmona, of course, will enter the general election with a built-in disadvantage, no matter his opponent, due the state’s electorate. Arizona has 183,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats, and hasn’t had a Democratic U.S. Senator since Dennis DeConcinci left office in 1995.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Carmona said the poll is one of many done during an election season and just a ‘snapshot in time,’ but said he believes the overall trend is in his favor.
“Every time I get out and talk to people and meet larger groups and people who have an interest in the campaign, the needle moves in my favor,” Carmona said. “It’s another indication that we are doing very well, and we are going to continue to work very hard.”
Carmona said Flake appears to be having a tough time in a Republican primary that he called an “embarrassment” due to the extreme rhetoric and millions of dollars being “wasted”.
Flake was viewed “favorably” by 30 percent of the respondents in the new poll and viewed “unfavorably” by 33 percent. The rest - 33 percent - were unsure about him.
Carmona was was viewed “favorably” by 16 percent of the respondents in the new poll and viewed “unfavorably” by 20 percent. The majority - 64 percent - were unsure about him, which suggest he remains unknown to many voters.
This new poll did not ask voters to choose between Flake and Cardon.
Carmona is from Tucson and faces the challenge of making himself known around the state. The former U.S. Surgeon General under President George W. Bush, Carmona is also a combat veteran, deputy sheriff, trauma surgeon and hospital administrator.
Carmona raised more money in the most recent quarter than Flake or Cardon, but still trailed Flake by more than $1 million in the total money in campaign coffers at the end of June, recent FEC reports showed. But, while Flake is burning through some of his money to fend off Cardon in his primary, Carmona is able to save most of his money.
In the Presidential race, this new poll shows Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney with a comfortable lead on President Barack Obama, 52-41 percent. Another 7 percent were undecided.
Stay tuned to the Pueblo Politics blog throughout 2012 for news, updates and information about Arizona politics. You can follow Arizona Daily Star reporters Brady McCombs and Becky Pallack on Twitter.